Monday, July 13, 2009

Why is this legal? 2

I've posted about this practice before---cyclists putting their small children in those little canvas trailers and hauling them around in city traffic. As a former parent myself---my son is now an adult---I think it's irresponsible and will eventually be seen by the law as child endangerment.
 
Turns out a guy in the Mission hauling his kid on his bike was the victim of a hit-and-run driver early this month. Fortunately, the child wasn't hurt, but the cyclist/father had his back injured, an incident written up on the local blog favored by cyclists.

One commenter had the temerity to question the wisdom of the practice, bringing down the wrath of the faithful. The dissenting commenter simply made a point that's the natural reaction of those of us who aren't adherents of BikeThink: "Shame on you for putting your kid at risk like that! If you want to ride your bike, fine, but your kid, your bike are NOT ACCESSORIES." This common sense observation provoked a furious response from the bike people.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons sees cycling as the greatest cause of head injuries in children.

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51 Comments:

At 3:08 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

"Why is this legal? 3"
Walking your child across a crosswalk.

http://cbs5.com/local/novato.child.hit.2.1023107.html

"Why is this legal? 4"
Driving your child home.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Suspected-DUI-Crash-in-SJ-Leaves-Boy-Dead.html

 
At 5:56 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for children from 2-14 years of age.

The only irresponsible person in that collision was the driver who raced through a red light and had the callousness to keep on going after injuring two people.

 
At 6:53 PM, Anonymous tb said...

Mr. Anderson, you're not always a jackass on this blog, but you sure are on this issue.

 
At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boring. If there was any substance to this post it would be backed up by some stats of accidents involving kids in trailers. The accident mentioned didn't even involve a kid in a trailer - why is it included here?

 
At 1:46 AM, Anonymous Nevermind said...

Rob - sometimes you say respectable things. Your points on homelessness, for example are refreshing and right on. When you start babbling about stories like this, however, you come across as a total jackass. Posts like this make me want to join critical mass, and I don't even own a bike. Maybe I'll borrow one this month and do it!

 
At 8:40 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, that's where you really belong: with the lemmings.

 
At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we're having a contest, it's obvious that the hit-and-run driver is the champion of irresponsibility here, rising to the level of criminal behavior.

But I tend to agree that plopping your kid in a flimsy trailer and riding in traffic is pretty darned irresponsible too. It's true that children can also be injured in automobiles -- but cars are full of safety features (and lots of protective metal) and, in the vast majority of accidents, people (and kids) walk away unscathed. We even require kids to sit in special safety seats to provide extra protection in cars. Putting your kid in an open trailer and taking them out on the road (was the kid even wearing a helmet?) seems pretty high on the irresponsibility scale to me.

Doing so is a little like telling the child to go play in traffic.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, of course no one is defending hit-and-run drivers. What's remarkable---and an indication that we're dealing with fanatics here---is the fervent, knee-jerk reaction by those defending this practice. You wonder how many of them even have children. But many cyclists in SF seem to be in denial about the dangers of riding a bike, and they seem to think it's the city's duty to somehow make it safe. Leah Shahum's recent remark in the Guardian that she would like to have traffic in SF "calmed" to the point where it would be safe for seven-year-olds to ride their bikes on busy city streets shows where they want to go with this. This is why she opposed the garage under the Concourse; the bike people loved it when there was a perpetual traffic jam in Golden Gate Park, which made it safer for cyclists to weave in and out of traffic, thus demonstrating the superiority of their "mode" of transporation.

The flip side of the coin: the bike people hate anything that makes it easy for people to drive in the city, and the Concourse garage made it easy for families, old folks, and the handicapped to access the middle of the park.

 
At 10:39 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Correction: Shahum wants city streets safe enough for six-year-old kids: "Imagine streets moving so calmly and slowly that you'd let your six-year-old ride on them." That's a prescription for gridlock, not only for cars but for Muni.
http://www.sfbg.com/printable_entry.php?entry_id=8542

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Market at 4th St is gridlocked right now, with cars blocking the intersection in both directions and muni buses and F car trains blaring their horns. I thought maybe they were having a special Thursday morning critical mass, but only see cars lined up. Odd.

 
At 12:12 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, and it's even odder that the city is preparing to make it worse with the Bicycle Plan.

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

smell the desperation of the fingernails clawing at the status quo - Miles files appeal at the last hour in order to push the bike plan back the inevitable as long as possible.

Or as Rob would say "we needed all the time possible to do a proper job on the appeal, it had nothing to do with stalling the bike plan any way we could".

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You're a typical bike asshole in that you don't know anything about either the Bicycle Plan or the litigation. It's all about "improvements" to city streets, right? We're going to submit a substantive legal critique of the EIR before the hearing before the Board of Supervisors.

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

In the immortal words of Jason Robards --"There's no goal line in parenting". Yet you consider yourself a "former parent". Does this mean you've abandoned your son? If so he can consider himself lucky.

Since we've decided to abandon debate for ad hominem attacks and all... :)

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You evidently have no idea how lame you are, Murph. Do you haul your children around in those shittly little trailers behind your bike? Are you going to "parent" your children forever? My son is now 31. Should I still be hovering over him, offering him advice about Life? And you cap your lameness off with a smiley face. Jesus!

 
At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not an expert on California Vehicle Code, but I wonder if the bicycle kiddie trailers could currently be illegal on our streets.

If the use of bicycles increases like the advocates desire, bicyclist licensing and more obedience to the rules is going to eventually occur. A significant growth in bicycle visibility will mean that more people will notice when bicyclists are behaving badly and demand action. It maybe be controversial, contentious and meaningless in the end -- but overall public safety concerns and insurance liability will eventually win out.

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"The accident mentioned didn't even involve a kid in a trailer - why is it included here?"

The child endangerment involved is the same, whether you put the child in a trailer or in a seat attached to the bike. Religious fanatics---which is what a lot of bike people essentially are---naturally want to involve their children in their cult. It's equally irresponsible for the city and the SFBC to encourage the city's school children to ride bikes to school, even though cyclists complain that the streets aren't even safe for them.

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

@Anonymous: If the use of bicycles increases like the advocates desire, bicyclist licensing and more obedience to the rules is going to eventually occur.

Currently cars are supposed to be registered and drivers are supposed to be licensed. In practice this is not true - a recent sting in Ingleside for drivers not yielding to pedestrians showed shocking results - 15% of the drivers did not have a valid drivers license. The penalty for non-compliance is not very severe. People being what they are, there won't be any difference if we require a license/tags for bicycles.

A significant growth in bicycle visibility will mean that more people will notice when bicyclists are behaving badly and demand action.

This has already happened.

It maybe be controversial, contentious and meaningless in the end -- but overall public safety concerns and insurance liability will eventually win out.

That hasn't happened with cars. Why would it happen with bikes?

 
At 3:41 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

The idea that the increasing visibility of bicycles will, by some inevitability, lead to demands for their licensing belies the fact that bicycles on the road are not exactly a new thing. There have been bicycles riding freely on our streets for longer than automobiles.

The streets, before they became a semi-private place dominated by people in private vehicles, were a public space, and bicycles (along with people, horses, and untold other forms of conveyance) were permitted to use them as a matter of course.

The reason we have licensing for cars is two-fold. One, it allows for the soaking of money from drivers, to pay for the very expensive consequences of their habit: constant road construction due to wear and tear, social costs due to the 50,000+ automobile deaths every year, cleanup of road grime and pollution, cleanup of trash left by drivers, etc. Even then, drivers aren't paying their way... the Texas DOT recently crunched the numbers to reveal that drivers are paying about 13 cents on the dollar of the actual costs of accomodating their cars.

The second reason for licensing is that it makes the operators of motor vehicles somewhat accountable for their actions by providing a way to track them down if, for example, they leave the scene of an accident. Likewise, it provides for a way to revoke someone's privilege to operate such a vehicle if they are a danger to themselves and others, for example by repeatedly driving drunk or other forms of negligence. A car is a dangerous, heavy vehicle capable of operating at high speeds and maiming many people, and its use is a privilege, not a right. The fact that licensing has not proven to be as much of a deterrent to bad driving as it ought to be is largely the failure of our local police forces to enforce the licensure of drivers.

None of these considerations really applies to a bicyclist. The only people shaking their fists in the air calling for our licensing are ones who would really prefer us off the roads altogether and, if not, would at least hope that we suffer the awful indignities of taxation to which they are subjected, neglecting of course the obvious reasons why cars are taxed and licensed and bicycles not.

When my bicycle is capable of murdering a crowd of people and wearing out a roadway, I'll happily pay for a license. Perhaps we can assess its cost based on the weight of the vehicle, and I'll happily flip 25 cents to the DMV for the privilege of operating a vehicle on a public roadway.

Until then, shut up. This WAH WAH NOT FAIR nonsense is about as far down on the emotional maturity level as a preschooler going into conniptions about how Johnny gets to play with a nicer toy and Tony has the cooler mommy. It's plenty fair.

 
At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously they would benefit from some bike lanes, no?

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Until then, shut up. This WAH WAH NOT FAIR nonsense is about as far down on the emotional maturity level as a preschooler going into conniptions about how Johnny gets to play with a nicer toy and Tony has the cooler mommy. It's plenty fair."

Besides, you and your comrades are saving the planet for all of us, right? Which makes you much cooler than anyone else on the road. Everyone else needs to shut up and get out of your way.

 
At 12:03 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

The California Child Restraint Law stipulates that a child auto passenger under age six must be in the back seat strapped in a safety seat.

One assumes this law was passed to increase child safety, not to sell safety seats and implies that the developers of the law felt that a child being driven on California streets while enclosed inside a two ton metal vehicle was still not safe.

The bike people seem to feel that a child being driven on California streets while pulled in a little two-wheeled wagon is above any safety laws and is apparently immune to any of the dangers of being on California streets.

Weird.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Cycling for these folks is a complete, seamless lifestyle, and everything else is an accessory to that way of life, including children.

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

A child involved in one of Rob Anderson's favorite "solo crashes" of a bicycle, strapped into a trailer with a helmet, is far more likely to survive than a child in a child seat, strapped in the back seat of a car, involved in a crash at 30, 40, 70+ MPH in a car. Those safety seats improve the odds but they aren't a magical force field. That's why we see 100's of children killed in auto accidents daily.

Ironically, the move to put child seats in the back has led to dozens of child fatalities from children forgotten in the car and left to die in the heat. Yet another dehumanizing effect of automobiles. Nobody ever forgot their son or daughter was in the bike trailer.

 
At 7:11 PM, Anonymous kwk said...

This ten-year-old article from the New York Times deserves it's own posting rather than being a mere comment:
The Mission Hipster

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

well, kwk, you've veered way off topic. Hard to say what your point is, but the hard luck people in that article are probably not people who garner much sympathy from Rob. In fact you might put him between a rock and a hard place, a bike riding hipster and an illegal immigrant.

 
At 5:31 AM, Blogger John G. Spragge said...

Rob:

The safety of a child trailer depends, roughly, on three things: first, does the trailer allow for adequate restraints; second, if hit by a car, will the carrier crumple or simply get pushed (roll with the punch), and third, does a sufficiently rigorous enforcement program exist so that those who choose two-tonne steel bombs for transportation behave with the appropriate responsibility.

As for the first, we can say that every decent child trailer allows for restraints; logic, as well as some evidence suggests child trailers do roll with the punch, and as for the third, well, too many people effectively excuse criminally reckless driving. When the penalties for serious urban speeding or hit and run driving approach the penalties for spraying a city block with lead from an Uzi or a Glock, the driving, cycling, and walking in the city will get a whole lot safer for both adults and children.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

By trying to rationalize the irrational, you bike people are only providing more evidence of your fanaticism, like Jonathan Swift's classic proposal about children, except that Swift's satire was intentional.

 
At 4:18 PM, Blogger John G. Spragge said...

So if I respond to your conviction that child trailers must endanger their occupants with reason and logic, that proves my fanaticism. And when people respond with invective or unreason, that proves exactly the same thing. In fact, it seems that you treat anything except agreement with your conviction that cycling with children must involve irrational risks as evidence of "fanaticism". We call this a close loop self-reinforcing system of thought, in which anything that would lead you to question your assumptions gets rejected.

Your question, "why is this legal" has a straightforward answer: because the majority of your fellow citizens, and the politicians they elect, do not subscribe to your system of thought.

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

And if cyclists cooked their children over an open fire, you would defend it.

 
At 9:11 PM, Blogger tb said...

"You bike people." You do realize how paranoid, victimized and whiny-old-white-guy this makes you sound, Mr. Anderson? So anyone who disagrees with you on this issue (or any issue, really) is one of these loathsome "bike people?" Allow me to correct you then: I am not a "bike person," I have a child and, I'm sorry to say, the city's streets are not quite safe enough (yet) to imagine riding a bike with him, and I could not disagree with you more. I enormously appreciate the efforts folks are putting into making the city's streets safer and less car-centric, and your single-minded desire to see our city dominated more, rather than less, by automobiles is incomprehensible.

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Gee, what an original observation, one that requires no specific knowledge of anything---of the Bicycle Plan, of the litigation, of traffic on city streets, etc. Thanks for sharing.

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

The bike plan might slow down MUNI? Maybe MUNI needs to be slowed down. Yet another 60 people sent to the hospital yesterday by MUNI! I think I'll stick to my bike - much safer!

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When my bicycle is capable of murdering a crowd of people and wearing out a roadway, I'll happily pay for a license. Perhaps we can assess its cost based on the weight of the vehicle, and I'll happily flip 25 cents to the DMV for the privilege of operating a vehicle on a public roadway.

Until then, shut up. This WAH WAH NOT FAIR nonsense is about as far down on the emotional maturity level as a preschooler going into conniptions about how Johnny gets to play with a nicer toy and Tony has the cooler mommy. It's plenty fair."

As a pedestrian, I've been almost hit by bicyclists on the sidewalk on upper Market Street and on Valencia Street, with a bicycle lane striped only 10 feet away! (I estimate at least 1/3 of the bicyclists on these streets are using the sidewalks). I've accompanied family members to the emergency room because a bicyclist hit them on the sidewalk; hundreds of dollars of medical expenses occurred. I've talked to several people who have been injured on San Francisco sidewalks and had to have medical attention (while the bicyclists did not stop to see about the pedestrian that they know that they hit and no one was able to stop the bicyclists for hitting a pedestrian).

The way it is now, a bicyclist can hit a pedestrian and peddle away as long as his bicycle is still functioning. The notion that a bicyclists are somehow immune from identification and liability when they run over pedestrians is the unfair issue I see.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Well maybe those cyclists should stay off the sidewalk, Anonymous. I yell at those people, too, because they're idiots and they're a danger to themselves and others. If we're going to license people on the sidewalk though (where it's illegal to ride anyway), let's go ahead and license skateboarders and joggers with iPods and every other menace to society...

Last I checked, we're talking about cyclists needing a license to ride on the street, and why that's never been necessary historically (and continues to be unnecessary today).

And the reality is that yes, a cyclist can hurt someone with his bicycle, but he's also likely to hurt himself, and he can't do anywhere near the damage a motor vehicle can. Take it from someone who's been sent to the hospital by two motor vehicles: I'd take being hit by a bike any day.

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Take it from someone who's been sent to the hospital by two motor vehicles: I'd take being hit by a bike any day."

What you and other bike zealots seem to be in denial about is the awful behavior of many of your comrades on the streets of the city. And of course we'd like to hear more about your accidents. Were you riding your bike?

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Rob, here's the irony. You are railing about cyclists because of their poor behavior - on a thread that starts with a Driver running a stoplight, hitting someone, then driving off. You state down the thread "no-one is defending hit and run drivers". But you ARE in fact defending the right of the motorists to behave like that by not examining that (deadly) behavior with the same critical eye you cast at cyclists.

Come on feel the hypocrisy.

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I didn't bring up the poor behavior of city cyclists; one of the commenters did. It's just routine thread drift, Murph. Go back to work now.

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger Lex said...

It's one thing to decide to put yourself at risk. It's another thing to drag your innocent child along for the ride so you can show the world how Green you are.

On a quiet suburban street with light traffic I could see how this would be acceptable. On a busy urban street this is just nuts.

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I'm glad you can all jump to conclusions about the guy's motives for taking his kid on a bike ride. That's an excellent case of projection, if you ask me.

Keep in mind that their bike ride was going totally fine and they were successfully passed by hundreds of sober, law-abiding motorists until somebody decided to aggressively break the law and hit them.

Clearly, the dad is at fault and should have just left his kid at home. If I ever have kids, I'm going to make sure to leave them in a padded, seismically base-isolated jungle gym inside a nuclear bomb shelter, lest they ever become a victim of someone else's bad behavior that I can't control.

Shit happens. The sad part is that the person responsible for this shit has gotten away and will not be prosecuted, and it's just a fact of life.

So you know, Rob, the second of my encounters with motor vehicles that I mentioned was on a bike, and it was a hit and run. I was rammed from behind by a drunk motorist at a red light, who sped away from the scene. I got his full license plate, and the SFPD had no interest in pressing charges since I couldn't identify the specific person who hit me (identifying their vehicle, apparently, is of no use). They ran his plates and said, rather lackadaisically, "OK, go sue him".

No justice in this town, so I guess that's why we blame the victim.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, "shit happens," and that's the sort of thing that can and does happen when you ride a bike. So why expose children to that risk?

 
At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, "shit happens," and that's the sort of thing that can and does happen when you ride a bike. So why expose children to that risk?"

Taking the thread full circle, that is the sort of thing that can and does happen when you drive a car. So why expose children to that risk?

The answer to both questions is the same, as Michael indicates. Going somewhere is living life, staying at home is not. There will be risk. The appropriate method of mitigating that risk is to address the things that increase risk, not the things that are exposed to risk. In this case, the risk was inserted into the system by a driver piloting a car running a red light.

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Why expose children to ANY risk, Rob?

I'll quote what I said in my first comment:
"Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for children from 2-14 years of age."

Are we going to prevent children from riding in cars? Pedestrians get hit more than cyclists. Are we going to prevent children from walking on the street or in crosswalks? There's all sorts of scary diseases out there, some of them at school; shall we keep our children living in a bubble at home?

The point is that life involves risk. However, because of your crusade against people cycling on city streets*, you choose to identify putting a child on a bicycle as particularly irresponsible, since you are already biased against it.

I'm just asking you to be consistent in order to point out the fallacy of your argument, because I'm not proposing keeping children out of cars or out of school or off of sidewalks, all of which are dangerous places.

So yes, shit happens. The only sad part of this story is that the person who's responsible for the accident got away. We have laws because people occasionally harm each other, and in this case the law is not working. That is not a reason for everyone to keep their children at home.

-------------------------------
*you're going to counter by saying that you have no problem with people cycling on city streets, an argument which has been put to death by your own statements over the years, but which I'm sure you'll insist we rehash anyway

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The only way your number on children killed in auto accidents could help your argument is if you could compare it to the number of miles children travel in autos, trucks, and buses---many thousands of miles---with the number of miles they travel on bikes, which is impossible, since those numbers aren't available, as far as I can tell.

Playing in traffic is dangerous just like playing with fire is dangerous, as we all learn as children. I think adults taking their children out to play in traffic is irresponsible, an opinion that you fanatics decry, but I doubt if it's a minority opinion, even in San Francisco.

"You're going to counter by saying that you have no problem with people cycling on city streets, an argument which has been put to death by your own statements over the years, but which I'm sure you'll insist we rehash anyway."

You, Murph, and Spragge have trotted out this argument before---the notion that you have, at some time in the past, nailed down something or other. (When I read that, I always think of Captain Queeg and the strawberries in the Caine Mutiny.) A brief summary of my opinion on riding a bike in SF: It's a way of getting around that has inherent dangers, which you bike people are in denial about. I wouldn't consider it myself just for that reason. Why risk injury just to do my errands? What's ridiculous is the assumption that somehow the city is obligated to make your risky means of transportation safe not only for you but also for children.

If chronological adults insist on riding bikes in SF, I have no objection at all. What I object to, along with the bad behavior of many cyclists, is that you crackpots and your many allies in city government are about to redesign city streets on behalf of your small, PC minority. Got it?

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

you crackpots and your many allies in city government are about to redesign city streets on behalf of your small, PC minority.

Are you throwing in the towel?

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

I'll have to split my reply into two parts. Hopefully they'll get published in order. Here goes:

You said:
The only way your number on children killed in auto accidents could help your argument is if you could compare it to the number of miles children travel in autos, trucks, and buses---many thousands of miles---with the number of miles they travel on bikes, which is impossible, since those numbers aren't available, as far as I can tell.

Digging up this sort of statistic is unnecessary. We do know that children travel many more miles by car than by bicycle; their growing waistband is evidence enough.

Keep in mind that I never said children shouldn't be driven around in cars in order to keep them safe. My point is that they do not need to be sheltered from any and all forms of risk. I do not need to prove that driving is statistically riskier than cycling (in fact, they're roughly on par); I'm only pointing out that it, like cycling, is an activity which carries risk yet we make a decision to engage in it every day because it also carries benefit.

This whole thread exists because a man got hurt driving his child around on a bicycle, and you started waving your fist going "THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW!!!". Since you are going to insist that I point out your anti-cycling bias (and that it extends beyond just a simple desire not to ride a bicycle yourself), I guess we'll start there. The fact that there is a law that should have prevented the accident notwithstanding (running a red light is illegal), you would like the city to respond by preventing people from taking their children on bicycles altogether, lest they be victimized by another law-breaking driver. For someone who frequently likes to compare cyclists to Islamic terrorists, you are tacitly endorsing a form of terrorism here: if drivers misbehave enough and hurt enough cyclists, we should regulate cyclists more in order to prevent them from "being in harms way".

You said:
Playing in traffic is dangerous just like playing with fire is dangerous, as we all learn as children. I think adults taking their children out to play in traffic is irresponsible, an opinion that you fanatics decry, but I doubt if it's a minority opinion, even in San Francisco.

Children learn not to "play in traffic" because, being children, they're apt to do silly things, like wander out into a roadway and get hit. An adult was driving his child around on a bicycle and, as far as we know, obeying all traffic laws and operating his bicycle safely, and they still got hit. That doesn't look like "playing in traffic" to me. It seems that you believe bicycles are toys, and that riding one in the street is just "playing in traffic" however you cut it. Why make the distinction between an adult driving a child around and an adult riding around by himself if you're just going to contradict yourself? Why not ban them both?

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Part two:

You said:
A brief summary of my opinion on riding a bike in SF: It's a way of getting around that has inherent dangers, which you bike people are in denial about. I wouldn't consider it myself just for that reason. Why risk injury just to do my errands? What's ridiculous is the assumption that somehow the city is obligated to make your risky means of transportation safe not only for you but also for children.

Everything has inherent dangers, and I'm not "in denial" about the dangers of cycling. I've been hit by a car. I've also had a few of those much-vaunted "solo falls" you like to trot out whenever you feel like invalidating anyone's attempt to protect cyclists from cars. The fact that automobile collisions with cyclists are much more likely to kill them doesn't seem to sway you. Falling off of my bike has caused me a few scrapes, and one wrist fracture. Getting hit by a car has sent me to the emergency room and landed me with $5,000 in bills.

You said:
What I object to, along with the bad behavior of many cyclists, is that you crackpots and your many allies in city government are about to redesign city streets on behalf of your small, PC minority. Got it?

Yes, Rob, I "get it". But for all your trotting out of anecdotes proving cycling is not safe, you miss the point that better bike facilities in San Francisco would help prevent the worst and most fatal kinds of crashes (the ones where a bike impacts 2 tons of steel moving at 40MPH), and that this is, in fact, the primary barrier to most people cycling. Ask someone who's on the fence about riding a bike what their worst fear is, and they won't tell you it's that they'll slip and fall. It's that they'll be hit by a car. Lessening this risk will put more cyclists on the street; more cyclists on the street means we're less of a "small, PC minority".

In fact, nothing improves safety for cyclists as much as numbers, and it stands to reason that more bike facilities will increase the numbers of cyclists (this has been the case in every city which has invested heavily in them). Perhaps one day we'll be back to the levels of the 1950s and 1960s, when most American children rode bikes to school (compared to nearly none of them now) and they were a much more common form of transportation. Cycling was safer then. There were almost no bike facilities to speak of, but there were also a lot fewer cars (and less of the attitude that bikes are strangers on the road who need to be swept aside in the name of Progress).

What it comes down to is this: we can keep forcing people into cars, whose needs are impossible to accomodate (see: Robert Moses's attempts to reshape New York), or we can make reasonable alternatives safer, and just because you don't think cycling is reasonable for yourself doesn't mean it's not reasonable for others. The last thing we need to do is to keep passively discouraging it by blocking the measures which would make it a safer choice.

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"just because you don't think cycling is reasonable for yourself doesn't mean it's not reasonable for others. The last thing we need to do is to keep passively discouraging it by blocking the measures which would make it a safer choice."

Let's run through the numbers one more time: according to the MTA's Transportation Fact Sheet, 48.20% of city residents drive or carpool to work; 30.3% take public transportation; 2.1% take a taxi, ride a motorcycle or "other"; 9.6% walk to work, and 7.6% work at home. Only 2.3% ride a bike to work. So we're supposed to screw up traffic for everyone else---which is what the EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us---just to make riding a bike a "safer choice"? Your answer and the city's is "yes," but I think it's stupid, crackpot stuff. If the city put the Bicycle Plan on the ballot---which will never happen, of course---city voters would reject it. But, whether we like it or not, we're going to get the Bicycle Plan!

 
At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Biko Biko said...

2.3% is a heck of a lot higher than when you first started gobbling about this issue! The bike plan will not "screw things up" for anyone. The environmental assessment (which you should be billed for) just says there will be "impacts". No shit! If you're dumb enough to think those impacts will be negative then you have no right to live here. GET OUT OF TOWN BEFORE WE THROW YOU OUT!

You pathetic little dog child!!!

 
At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Rob, I knew of you by reputation, but this is my first time on your blog. I'm a "fanatic" (apparently) who bikes with my kids in Seattle.

I'd argue with your logic here if there were any to argue with. But all I see is your personality disorder. Now that you've lost your Bicycle Plan fight, it might be time to get some help with that.

 
At 8:26 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Anyone who uses his kids as accessories to a dangerous hobby is a fanatic. Before it's too late for your kids, you should get some help dealing with your impulse to endanger them.

 

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